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Friday, February 25, 2011

The ‘How’ of Forgiveness

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.”

~1 John 3:14 (NIV, 2010).

The ‘Why’ of Forgiveness motivates the how; it shifts our thought onto making it work for us because there’s a purpose to the action. Whenever we want to know how to do something, the reasons why will point our way there. Simple intuition will provide the intent to search.

But the ‘how’ is also about process. There must be some understanding of the steps to be taken. The following are some considerations:

Take Note of the Enticing Effect of Offense

Defusing resentment is an obvious key allowing the floodgates of mercy and grace to release and wash us with compassion, opening up within us the forgiveness we’re extending to the perpetrator or the transgressions in question.

Just knowing the nature of offense is good. It’s an enticing thing, to become offended by something someone does.

This knowledge is power. It helps us to go back to the events in question and understand where and how the conflict started. Despite what they did, there is never as much malice intended as we thought there was.

When we now consider the important ‘why’ of forgiveness (from the linked article above) with the theory of hurt that creates conflict lacking motive for forgiveness, we can begin to see the discreet steps toward a lasting forgiveness are taking shape.

The ‘How’ of Forgiveness is Simple

From here, forgiveness is simpler than we think it’s going to be.

As we note the nature of hurt and our temptation to hold a grudge, there’s a better understanding of our role in this concept of relational restoration.

Acts of forgiveness are very action-oriented. Thought is brought to bear on the issues, as mentioned above, and then the act of forgiveness—a decision taken or the act of words said or written—can take place.

The act of forgiveness is keeping us to account. It’s not just us that know we have to do it; it’s preferably shared with revered others.

If there’s a commitment made to forgive someone, and there are others that know such a commitment is made, it becomes more real in our mind and heart. Suddenly we’re holding ourselves to account—and being more honest with ourselves—for there’s fear that if we don’t hold ourselves to account, someone else will.

John’s proclamation at top is simply this: if we refuse to forgive when we can—and we always can—then we do not love, and therefore we remain in spiritual death.

It should only be life that interests us.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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